Famous Diamonds from South Africa
Text by Dineo Poo
Stamp issue date: 19 Jun 2019
The rhyme by Jane and Anne Taylor, Twinkle, twinkle, little star, How I wonder what you are, Up above the world so high, Like a diamond in the sky is for many children probably the first inkling that something bright and shiny called a diamond exists! As they become older, they find out that, as Nicky Oppenheimer would say, diamonds are intrinsically worthless, except for the deep psychological need they fill, or on a more positive note, that diamonds are a girl’s best friend, according to Leo Robin.
Rough diamonds may sometimes be mistaken for worthless pebbles. This is probably why rich diamond deposits were only discovered in 1867 in Hopetown, South Africa. A 15 year old boy, Erasmus Jacobs, found a transparent rock on his father’s farm towards the end of 1866. Schalk van Niekerk, a visitor, suspected that the rock was a diamond. It had to pass several hands before it was authenticated as a diamond. A mad rush for diamonds ensued and this led to mass emigration, fame, mindboggling individual prosperity and mining monopolies.
The beauty of these stones mined in South Africa, that are now objects of great wealth, hidden envy and awe can now be experienced by all South Africans and philatelists in the form of stamps. A sheet of 10 airmail postcard rate stamps has been designed by Thea Clemons from photographs generously provided by various people and organisations. There are two First Day Covers.
The diamonds gracing our stamps are:
The Eureka – 1866;
This Yellow-brown diamond was the first diamond found in South Africa.
The Star of South Africa – 1969;
This white-colourless diamond was discovered in Hopetown 150 years ago! It was owned and then sold by Schalk Van Niekerk, the man who discovered the Eureka.
The De Beers – 1888;
This diamond was mined in Kimberley and it is the seventh largest faceted diamond in the world.
The Exelsior – 1893;
This blue-white diamond was mined at Jagersfontein in the Free State. It was known as the largest diamond in the world until 1905 when the Cullinan diamond was discovered.
The Jubilee – 1895;
This diamond, also discovered at Jagersfontein is the sixth largest diamond ever discovered.
The Cullinan – 1905;
This white-colourless diamond mined at the Premier Mine in Gauteng is the largest diamond in the world. Featured on the stamp is the uncut and unpolished stone, displaying one of the flat cleavage planes, which suggests that it was, at one stage, part of a much larger crystal.
The Golden Jubilee – 1985;
This is the largest polished brown diamond in the world at 545,67 carats.
The Centenary – 1986;
This white-colourless diamond is the third largest from the Premier mine.
The Heart of Eternity – 2000;
Mined at the Premier Mine, this is a rare blue diamond of 27.64 carats that broke records when it was sold for a hefty sum. It is one of the 10 most expensive blue diamonds ever sold.
The Blue Moon of Josephine – 2014;
Mined at Petra Diamonds’ Cullinan mine, it is an extraordinary blue diamond weighing 29.6 carats. It was bought at more than U$48million for a lucky seven year old girl!
The Millennium Star;
This is the only diamond rated flaw-less both internally and externally. Although not mined in South Africa, it was polished in the country. (FDC 8.119)
The Premier Rose;
The rarity of this diamond mined in South Africa secures its place in the selection. (FDC 8.120)
Marlaine Botha Photographic Librarian De Beers Group